Aspen man faces prison time after alleged bar assault
December 20, 2011
ASPEN – An Aspen resident faces at least four years behind bars after a bar fight that left one man hospitalized with serious injuries to his ear.
Thirty-year-old Bradley Allen Dingess appeared Monday in Pitkin County District Court to face one felony charge of second-degree assault and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. With a conviction, the assault charge carries a mandatory prison sentence ranging from four to 16 years.
Aspen police arrested Dingess early on Nov. 26 after responding to a report of a fight at the Escobar nightclub. There, police spoke to Dingess and his girlfriend, who both said the confrontation started after a man hit on the woman. The woman said she had asked the man to leave her alone but he would not.
Dingess and the man then got into a confrontation on the dance floor, where another man tried to de-escalate the situation – instead, he and Dingess exchanged blows on the ground, an arrest affidavit said.
The alleged victim “received a large laceration on his ear from the altercation,” the affidavit said. A doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital, where the victim was treated, said the laceration constituted “serious bodily injury,” a component of the second-degree assault charge Dingess faces. And, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin, the victim had to undergo surgery after part of his lower ear was separated from his head.
Dingess did not have an attorney and told District Judge Gail Nichols he would prefer to enter a plea to the charges before he hires one. That didn’t work for Nichols, who ordered him to apply for a public defender. Dingess, who’s due back in court Jan. 23, said he can’t afford a free-market attorney.
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In other court developments Monday:
• Nichols sentenced Aspen resident Robert Joseph Rice to two years in Pitkin County Jail after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges connected to pushing a paraplegic Iraq war veteran out of his wheelchair and later spitting in a police officer’s face.
Rice, 38, was arrested in October after police received a call about a disturbance at the Hunter Bar. According to a police affidavit, when officers arrived outside the East Cooper Avenue tavern, they spotted three men – including the alleged victim and Rice. Rice fled the scene, leading to a foot chase through downtown with police. Police eventually arrested Rice after they found him lying face down on the ground.
Rice, who was injured from a fall, was taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital. While en route to the hospital, Rice spit in the face of Officer Dan Davis.
• Attorney Lawson Wills entered his appearance for Jamie Lee Patton, who faces attempted first-degree murder and other felony charges. The 24-year-old El Jebel resident was arrested Thursday after he allegedly tried to run over another man with his Jeep Cherokee. Patton also allegedly threw a wrench at his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle.
Mordkin has yet to file formal charges but has indicated that Patton faces felony counts of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree assault, felony menacing and two counts of stalking. There’s also a pending domestic-violence count along with misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief, harassment and driving a vehicle under restraint.
Wills said it’s too early to tell what type of defense he will present for Patton, who was released from jail Friday on $20,000 bond. Patton is due back in court Jan. 9 for a filing of charges.
“At this point we just need to get the police reports and see what happened,” Wills said.
• Taylor Colton, 41, was back in court on a felony burglary charge – once again without an attorney but with a new look.
With newly dyed, spiked red hair, Colton said he was still working on finding an attorney.
“I’ve heard that before,” said the judge, who implored Colton to either hire a lawyer or apply for a public defender.
“I’m just playing catch-up,” said Colton, a longtime valley resident who now lives in Salt Lake City.
Also, the alleged burglary victim said Colton has been harassing him. The judge said a mandatory protection order, which would prohibit Colton from having any contact with the alleged victim, should have been in place. It hasn’t been, prompting Nichols to issue one from the bench. For his part, Colton denied having any contact with the alleged victim.
Colton also has been accused by area business owners of fleecing them out of cash as part of a magazine scam. The business owners have claimed that they paid Colton for advertisement space in the magazine Aspen Moxie, which has yet to be printed. Colton told them the magazine would hit the stands in June or July. Criminal charges have yet to be filed in that matter.
• Vaughn Barnett, 28, who was arrested by Snowmass police in December 2010 on marijuana charges, was back in court after being arrested last week in California on a failure-to-appear warrant. Barnett faces a felony charge of attempting to possess more than 12 ounces of marijuana after he and another man were suspected of having 11 pounds of pot mailed to a post-office box in Snowmass Village.
Barnett, who’s currently in Pitkin County Jail, is accused of violating conditions of his bail bond by skipping a previous court hearing for the marijuana case. The charge of violation of bail bond condition is a felony. Barnett is represented by public defender Tina Fang.
• An agreement appears to be in the works for 20-year-old Joshua Stump, of Basalt, who is accused of selling marijuana to a 12-year-old student at Basalt Middle School. Stump was arrested in June following an investigation by the Basalt Police Department.
He faces a Class 3 felony charge of distribution of marijuana to a person under 15 and a Class 4 felony charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Fang, who is representing Stump, said that “I’ve done significant investigation on this case, which will change the landscape dramatically.”
Nichols said the case has dragged on long enough.
“This is a very old case. We really need to get this resolved one way or another by the 23rd” of January, which is when Stump is due back in court.